Sunday, April 7, 2013

Vatican City

An interesting subject in terms of nations is the entity of Vatican City. Despite a long history with the Catholic Church's head in Rome, Vatican City was only relatively recently formed to its current political appearance in 1929 through the Lateran Treaty with Italy (full text here). When Italy was unified in 1871, what would become Vatican City did not wish to be incorporated into Italy and so sat for almost 60 years in a state of limbo labelled the "Roman Question". Eventually an agreement was made in which Vatican City would be its own legal entity, albeit closely linked to Italy.

Vatican City exists as a nation because of Religion, one of the major reasons in the creation of some nations. Ironically, both Italy and Vatican City, at the time of the Lateran Treaty, held Roman Catholicism as the official religion. The difference was that Italy was becoming a modern nation with many various aspects, while Vatican City focused to a much greater extent on the aspect of religion.

Today the Vatican City is still the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and it is unique among nations in that many modern nations seek to not specify a particular religion, while Vatican City exists only to preach its religion. Vatican City is not a member of the United Nations, but it is still widely recognized as a state separate from any other, meeting the criteria for the constitutive theory of statehood. Vatican city meets all of the criteria for the declarative theory of statehood as well, making it a state by both main definitions. (See the difference between Declarative and Constitutive theories of statehood here).

Vatican City has a major global impact, arguably larger than many states of greater size. This is because although Vatican City has fewer than 1,000 citizens, the Catholic religion is practiced by more than 1 billion people worldwide, meaning that Vatican City has tremendous international influence. It is very rare for a country to have such a strong influence over people who are not citizens of that country, making Vatican City a rather unique nation.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nations Existing from Prehistory

Many nations which exist today also existed by the same names long ago. Nations such as Britain (timeline here), France (history here), China (timeline of dynasties), and Japan (brief history here) are examples of these. Many of these such nations created empires at their height, expanding their influence across the world. While today, many of these nations are not as powerful as previously in their histories, they still remain as moderately powerful nations, some still growing in power.

These nations existed sometimes unified by a leader (most often a monarch or emperor) and sometimes fractured into much smaller states. However, when these smaller states unified the countries gained their greatest power and influence, and this power has been able to be conserved into modern day. While the borders of these countries have may have changed with time, what has not changed is often the culture, language, and people which make up these nations. Because these factors are largely what identify a nation, for this reason it may be said that these nations have existed as nations for so long.

Some of these nations have official dates for which they identify the beginning of the nation, such as France's beginnings in 843 under the Treaty of Verdun. Other nations with such long history don't necessarily have official dates of inception as countries, but instead exist today as nations because they have history as a nation, not because they have set histories and recognition. 

Some of these historic nations have had more recent transformations as nations, such as China, which became the Democratic People's Republic of China in 1949 (brief history here). This may be considered by some as the creation of a new nation, and it certainly showcases some of the criteria for the creation of a new nation which are outlined in the guide for creating a nation (link to page on this site). On the other hand, transformations such as the one in China may be seen not as the creation of a new nation but as a change and part of the extended history of the nation. Whether such nations have existed since antiquity or are more recent additions, they exemplify the diverse nature of the origin of nations. 

When these nations with long histories have tried to expand , the resulting conflicts have often resulted in the creation of more nations, sometimes immediately and sometimes further along in history. Many of these historic nations have had the benefit of time to build strength and ability to expand. However, upon trying to expand, these nations came into conflict with other nations, often with each other, and these conflicts escalated to wars which would create new nations. Essentially, this system began with imperialism, which divided many territories into what would later become new nations. 

The large and historic nations have great histories themselves as nations, and because they existed before the any attempt was made at defining a nation, they are by default considered such. These had a great effect in the creation of new nations, but they rarely tried to create the new nations; instead they more frequently struggled against insurrections which pitted natives wishing for independence against the imperial powers. These nations with long histories have had a great impact on the creation of nations and the evolution of what it means to be a nation.